Friday, January 11, 2013

The Dream Series

I've just posted a new series of 10 photographs titled "Dream Series". My gratitude to both Tanya and Tiffany for all the work they put into the images.
Art Prints

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A reply to a friend on the right on immigration and other issues.

You make some interesting points and, though I cannot agree wholeheartedly with all the opinions you express, I know where those opinions come from and I can empathize with you feelings.

from your note:  "1.  The influence of religious extremist in countries that we consider threats such as Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc. are extreme models of what is happening here in the U.S. with the religious right on a smaller scale but nonetheless we are beginning to mirror them in some cases."

I submit that the threat by the religious right / Tea Party in the US is just as dangerous to our democracy as the Taliban is to any hint of democracy in Afghanistan. The following is a list of traits we find among the Taliban:

  • Ideological purity
  • The belief that compromise shows weakness
  • A fundamentalist belief in scriptural literalism
  • A denial of science to the extent they are unmoved by facts
  • They are undeterred by new information
  • They have a hostile fear of progress to the extent that they want to maintain the status quo at all costs
  • They demonize education
  • They feel a need to control women's bodies
  • Severe xenophobia; a fear of and hostility toward anyone who is "different"
  • A tribal mentality
  • Intollerance of dissent
  • And a pathological hatred of the US government

(list adapted from "Newsroom")

I further submit that it is not a huge intellectual leap to conclude those traits are shared by the Afghan Taliban AND our unholy religious right / Tea Party coalition. Feel free to correct any mis-impressions I have in that list as you find them ... or conversely, to add anything you think I might have inadvertently left out.

Actually, there is one other trait that occurs to me as I write this. Both groups are armed to the teeth and I find that singularly threatening. Sharon Angle of Nevada in the run up to the 2010 elections threatened to "exercise her Second Amendment rights" if she and other Tea Party candidates weren't elected. I wonder how many other in this country feel that exercising their Second Amendment rights is appropriate whenever they don't get their way?

from your note: "2.  The immigration population that is no longer assimilating into the U.S. society and culture but is still tied to their "home country" and wants the U.S. to change our ways to match what they know and are comfortable with.   They want it both ways,  in some cases even insisting on Sharia law be adopted here in the USA.  Here in Fairfax County that has one of the best school systems in the country there are over one hundred languages spoken in the school system.  I was at Fair Oaks Hospital today and they offer free translation services in over a dozen languages (BTW, Polish is not one of them).  At a cost to whom?  It "fries me" that product information on packaging has been reduced by fifty percent because half of it is repeated in Spanish."

I think the points you make here are worthy of careful consideration. Rather than advancing counter arguments, let me offer some stories from my own past in the hope of achieving some insight into the overall situation.

You are without doubt aware that both you and I are of Polish dissent so I suspect our families share some experiences in common. I was fortunate to have a cousin who did a ton of genealogical research over the course of several years including a trip to Poland and a file cabinet filled with correspondence with folks in Poland familiar with the history of that country and the various people who live there.

Her research revealed that, on my mother's side of the family, we were actually Ukrainians displaced by the Mongol invasion of Eastern Europe in the 12th century. Their migration to Poland was only a slightly better option than slaughter by the Mongols. They were unwelcome in Poland. Fearing insurrections by these refugees, the Polish people forced the Ukrainians into serfdom, working the land, and tied to land that was not theirs. Laws were passed that prevented the immigrants from owning land or conducting commerce. Families were isolated and, in many cases, they were broken up with husbands separated from wives and children separated from parents, all in the name of preserving the integrity of Polish culture.

Some 600 years later when my grandparents on my mother's side pooled funds from the community in order to send a few to establish a beach head in America, they had by no means assimilated into the Polish mainstream. They still spoke a dialect of Ukrainian - albeit containing a strong add-mix of Polish and Russian words. They preserved their religious traditions (Russian Orthodox).

My take away is that if the host society is not open and welcoming, 600 years  is not enough time for assimilation. (At about 20 years per generation that's 120 generations.)

On reaching the US via Ellis Island in the nineteen-teens, they settled in central New York. My grandfather bought land with his New York Central Rail Road wages and the family farmed. My grandfather picked up some English as a result of being a rail road employee. My grandmother spoke far less English. She managed the farm raising children (8), potatoes, berries, tomatoes, cabbage, chickens and some milk cows and had little contact with English speakers, therefore had little use for speaking English. On Sundays they traveled half a day by horse drawn wagon (the same wagon they hauled their produce to market on Saturdays) to a Russian Orthodox church in Syracuse where everyone spoke Ukrainian or some mutually understandable variant of Russian-Ukrainian.

My mother, the oldest child, went to public school where she was taught English starting at about 6 years old. At home she spoke the family Ukraino-Russian dialect. Everywhere else, she spoke English. She went on to become the first of her family to graduate high school, the first and only member of her generation in her family to obtain a Bachelors degree as well as a Masters.

On a parallel course, my father's parents arrived in the US sometime between 1900 and 1910 by way of Halifax, Canada. (For all I know they swam the St. Lawrence River and arrived in the US as illegal aliens.) They were of "pure" Polish lineage, my grandmother being a seamstress for a family of the Polish nobility; my grandfather being a coach and wagon maker. They settled and farmed in the Utica, New York area. In their home they were Polish Catholic and spoke only Polish. My grandfather read newspapers in Polish sent weekly from Poland and from a publisher of a Polish language newspaper in New York City. He had a library, all of which was written in Polish. His friends and relatives who lived in city of Utica were al Polish and they spoke Polish only for the most part. My relationship with my grandparents was pretty non-verbal.

My father spoke Polish only until he was 12. He started school in a Polish Catholic school in Utica. At 12 he was thrown out for cursing a nun and entered public school where, for the first time in his life, English was a necessity. Eventually,he even spoke English with no discernible accent (though he always had a problem with the "th" sound in Thomas - pronouncing the "h" as anything but silent). He went on to earn a BFA from Syracuse University in 1936 and to become a respected teacher at East Syracuse-Minoa High School.

My arrival in 1945 marked the third generation. I attended public school and have spoken English only my entire life. I and my cousins are the first generation of our family to speak English only. However, i often ate lunch at a hall and bar in New Jersey run by the axillary of the Russian church in Cedar Grove, not far from Ricoh HQ. I reveled in the sound of the Eastern  European languages from my childhood with my grandparents; languages that I never learned to speak. I could pick out words and phrases here and there. It was like music to my ears though I didn't understand the lyrics.

My take away lesson from this is, even in a welcoming and accepting country made up of immigrants, it probably takes three generations for complete assimilation. To expect that first generation immigrants can abandon their culture, their traditions and their identity simply because they had the unimaginable courage to leave everything else behind to come to this great land of opportunity is, at best naive and at worst, willful ignorance. It seems to me the best way to honor the experiences of our grandparents is to offer a better welcome to these shores to new comers than the welcome our grandparents received. (I remember all the dumb Polak jokes that seemed to subside as soon as the world gained a Polish Pope.)

As for the "threat of Sharia Law", please forward any evidence that there is some area, some town or municipality where Sharia Law is showing some sign of supplanting municipal, county, state or federal laws. I would be very interested is seeing something beyond some anonymous cracker's "hair-on-fire" blog post. (World Nut Daily articles and their like don't count as evidence.)

from your note: "3.  Political correctness has run amuck!  Unlike in the video, people are no longer willing to take a stand for what is important to them and they know is right because they are afraid to be called a racist, etc when it comes to common sense issues and even larger ones." 

By "political correctness running amuck", I presume you're referring to all those photo-shopped images of Obama as Hitler, watermelons on the White House lawn, lynched effigies of a current sitting president found throughout the American south and jokes about the First Lady being offered $50 to pose for National Geographic? Perhaps I'm missing something.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Logic Of The Bottom Line

The bottom line is profit.

Eliminating minimum wages, as some advocate, increases the bottom line. Regulations decrease the bottom line, therefore the coal mining industry opposes OSHA regulations that strive to ensure mine worker safety.

Newt Gingrich, a popular Conservative figure on the Right, favors waiving child labor laws so that schools can hire children to carry out janitorial functions (at lower cost).

There is a logic to the bottom line and the ultimate end of that bottom line logic is outlined in the following TED Talk and photo essay:

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Hypocrisy

The measure of hypocrisy is the difference between one's words and one's actions.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Fallacy of Common Sense

When I was a child growing up in the late 1940s and early 1950s one of my favorite radio programs was the continuing saga of The Lone Ranger. I would huddle next to the radio every night to follow the adventures of the Lone Ranger and his faithful companion, Tonto. Unfortunately, the program aired just about my bed time and, as often as not, my parents would insist that I miss part of the program and keep to the schedule they'd deemed appropriate. One night as I was trying to negotiate a few extra minutes so that I could finish that night's episode, it occurred to me that a.) the program was coming from the radio; b.) if I unplugged the radio, the program would stop, i.e. nothing would get out of the radio and c.) if my assumptions were correct, I could plug the radio back in at my convenience and the program would resume right where I left off!

It was common sense! Imagine my disappointment when, the next morning, I plugged the radio back in with eager anticipation of hearing the rest of latest adventure from right where I left off the night before. Imagine my surprise when I found myself in the middle of "As the World Turns"! The problem was that I didn't know diddly squat about how radios worked. That's the problem with common sense. We fall back on common sense when we don't know what in hell we're talking about. The fact of the matter is that common sense can be totally, dead wrong.

I've heard a lot lately about how our national economy is like a family budget and how it's only common sense that, if a family budget encounters financial difficulties, the best advice to the family is to stop spending.

The problem is that a national economy is nothing at all like a family budget. If a family spends money, as far as the family is concerned, the money is gone ... poof ... it isn't there any more!

An economy is something completely different. An economy is value in motion. If I spend money, you make money and if you spend money, then I make money. If I buy a loaf of bread at the grocery store, the store keeps some of the money (profit) and buys another loaf of bread from the bakery. The bakery buys more flour and pays it's employees to bake more bread. One of the employees at the bakery take their share of the money they get for their work and buys a pair of shoes ... which profits the show maker.

My spending money may be a negative on my family budget. In that context, I buy the bread, the money is gone and when I eat the bread ... well, there's nothing left.

In an economy, when I spend money, it starts a chain reaction. Value in motion.

So, if consumers stop spending money (as they have, or certainly slowed down a lot) and if companies stop spending money (as they have to the tune of sitting on about $2 trillion in liquid cash value) and the government stops spending (as many would have it do because they believe an economy works like a family budget) the economy grinds to a halt; it crashes. It crashes because an economy is value in motion and when value stops moving ... there simply is no economy.

If you don't know how something works, common sense can lead you astray. Just keep in mind that, for thousands of years, common sense had people believe that the earth was flat. Common sense is no substitute for knowing how the world works.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Are you a fascist? You Might Be A Fascist If…

My wife found this the other day on one of the boards she frequents. I thought it was worth posting as points to ponder.

For instance, you might be a fascist if…

1. You are obsessed with national power and pride, and believe your country doesn’t have to follow the rules and shouldn’t ever apologize for doing things that are wrong. You think your nation can do whatever it wants.

2. You believe in the rule of the few, election rigging, political decisions being made by a select group of officials behind closed doors, embrace the informal and unregulated exercise of political power, arbitrary deprivation of civil liberties, and little tolerance for meaningful opposition.

3. You believe in survival of the fittest, an every man for himself mentality that causes you to believe that poor people and sick people are weak and must be punished. You think rich people are strong because they are wealthy and that they should rule us. You also believe your race is superior to all others.

4. You use the media as a political propaganda machine to target a specific audience and to push your agenda on others. You make sure the media demonizes your opponents and takes your side on nearly every issue. You use your propaganda machine to play on the fears of others.

5. You are obsessed with security, and war. You feed this obsession by spending trillions of dollars building up a large military force and are willing to sacrifice domestic programs your people count on to keep your military huge. You start unnecessary and costly wars and you are paranoid of other nations.

6. You are driven to indoctrinate others into your way of thinking. So much so, that you try to re-write history, change the way school children are taught and you brainwash the ignorant. You use your propaganda machine as a tool to achieve this.

7. You fear and demonize intelligent people who have a higher education because they are the ones who can thwart your effort to brainwash people. You then attempt to prevent others from achieving a higher education because you want the people as ignorant as possible so you can convince them that your way is the right way.

8. You have a deep hatred and fear of communists and you instill your followers with hatred and fear of others by accusing your political opponents of being communists. This gives you an easy scapegoat to blame when things go wrong. Any person or policy you don’t like is branded as communism.

9. You disrespect women and think their place is in the home. You believe women are weak and cannot do things that men do. You believe that sexual harassment or assault is no big deal and that the only thing women are good for is cooking meals and having babies.

10. You strongly align yourself with corporations and you support corporate money and influence in government. You despise government regulations that keep corporations honest because you believe everything should be controlled by the free market and that corporations should be allowed to do whatever they please.

11. You are obsessed with Christianity. You seek to declare a Christian State and to impose religious laws on all the people across the country and the world. You believe other religions are inferior and that those who practice them should either be converted or destroyed.

12. You believe your race is superior and seek to disenfranchise or humiliate other races. You believe in legalized discrimination and fantasize about a return to times when the races were separate or when those of color were enslaved. You use code words in an attempt to hide your racism and you make laws that weaken the influence of those of color. Immigration and voting laws in particular.

13. You absolutely despise unions. To you and those like you, labor unions represent the empowerment of workers. Since you believe corporations can do whatever they want, you see organized labor as a threat because they fight for higher wages, health care, safety regulations, less hours, vacations, sick days, and holidays off. This obviously threatens the amount of money corporations can give to you and your cause so you brand unions as proponents of socialism and make laws that severely weaken them so that corporations can have a cheap, mindless labor force.

14. You are obsessed with crime and a major supporter of punishing those who commit crimes. So much so, that you don’t care about the concept of ‘innocent until proven guilty.’ You are proud of executing people and aren’t bothered if an innocent person is killed. You seek to make harsher laws, especially laws that target specific groups of people such as immigrants, women, and people of color. You also oppose Miranda rights and using humane interrogation tactics and you seek to undermine the independent judiciary.

15. You believe every election should go your way and to reach that goal, you push voting laws that disenfranchise those who traditionally vote for opponents such as people of color, the elderly, college students, and the poor. You even stoop to fixing elections in some cases and complain when your opponents challenge the vote counts.

16. You believe in rewarding your friends with positions when you gain power and you reward those who support you with government contracts and money, especially corporations. You also do your best to aid your supporters in any way you can, such as repealing undesirable pieces of legislation and regulations. You often have something to gain financially from this.

17. You create scapegoats to blame when problems arise. Whether it’s communists, liberals, minorities, homosexuals, the poor, or non-Christians, one thing is for certain. You and your propaganda tool will blame each and every one of those groups for bad things that happen even if you were the cause of the problems in the first place.

18. You take advantage of a national disaster such as an economic collapse or an attack to demonize your opponents and push your agenda. You use these events to strike fear into the population in an attempt to scare people into voting for you and your cause. It’s all about fear and scare tactics.

I'll add to this my own little pet peeve: 

I don't have a problem with patriots. I admire REAL patriots. What I have a problem with are people who call themselves "patriots". It's like calling yourself a hero or telling the world you're a saint. Some things are better left for other people to say about you. There are some things which, when you say them about yourself, smack of hubris and arrogance.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

One Man Show

The Amerind Museum is currently hosting a show of 27 of my photographs of "Walls, Windows and Doors". The following is from the Amerind Foundation's press release announcing the show:
What: Walls, Windows and Doors, an exhibit by professional photographer Joe Kozlowski

Where: The Amerind Museum

When: May 1-December 31, 2012

Exhibit description: Professional photographer Joe Kozlowski’s stunning photography examines the Walls, Windows and Doors of the American Southwest’s ancient ruins and historic structures. The photographer captures the artistry of ancient architectural elements, likening them to abstract impressionist paintings. For Kozlowski, the subject matter is a metaphor for human interaction: walls which isolate us, windows that provide us with insights into each other, and doors that help us connect. The changing nature of these structures from ancient Native American towns to recent Spanish Colonial churches poses questions for us. How have the functions of walls, windows and doors changed over time and between the cultures that created them?

About the Photographer: Joe Kozlowski is the son of a portrait/landscape artist and an elementary school teacher. He has been involved with photography as an amateur, semi-professional and professional since he was a child. With a background in cultural anthropology, his photos reveal the artistry in human structures and objects. Kozlowski’s photography is available in book form through Blurb.com. They are also on display on-line at FineArtAmerica.com.

About the attached image: A signature piece of the exhibit, this photograph by Joe Kozlowski shows the doors of Pueblo Bonito, a ruin in New Mexico that was first built over one thousand years ago.
You can find out more about the Amerind Foundation and Museum on-line at Amerind.org.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Congressional Reform Act of 2011

"I could end the deficit in 5 minutes," he told CNBC. "You just pass a law that says that anytime there is a deficit of more than 3% of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election". ~ Warren Buffett

The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds) took only 3 months & 8 days to be ratified! Why? Simple! The people demanded it. That was in 1971...before computers, e-mail, cell phones, etc. Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took 1 year or less to become the law of the land...all because of public pressure.

Warren Buffet is asking each addressee to forward this email to a minimum of
twenty people on their address list; in turn ask each of those to do likewise.

In three days, most people in The United States of America will have the message. This is one idea that really should be passed around.

*Congressional Reform Act of 2011*

1. No Tenure / No Pension. A Congressman collects a salary while in office
and receives no pay when they are out of office.

2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security. All
funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security
system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system,
and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for
any other purpose.

3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans
do.

4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay
will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

5. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the
same health care system as the American people.

6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American
people.

7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective 1/1/12.
The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen. Congressmen
made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor,
not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours
should serve their term's), then go home and back to work.

If each person contacts a minimum of twenty people then it will only take three days for most people (in the U.S.) to receive the message. Maybe it is time.

THIS IS HOW YOU FIX CONGRESS!!!!! If you agree with the above, pass it on.
(Warren Buffet is asking each addressee to forward this email to a minimum of twenty people on their address list; in turn ask each of those to do likewise.
In three days, most people in The United States of America will have the message. This is one idea that really should be passed around.)

*Congressional Reform Act of 2011*